“Love the sinner, hate the sin” has been the church’s resounding mantra when it comes to addressing the homosexual. It may be typical but it is good theology for ALL of us.
Love Sinners (That’s all of us)…
As a church we are called to love all people, both saint and sinner! Regardless of rather you are downtrodden or upbeat; outcast or embraced; poor or rich, brokenhearted or bighearted; troubled or content; lost or found; alone or united, the church should always be a place with the doors wide open. Jesus calls out, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). If we would follow in the footsteps of Jesus then we too would be accused of being “a friend of sinners” just as He was.
On a side note…the only person who should ever experience the cold shoulder of the church is the “saint” who has embraced a lifestyle of sin (ponder that for a while). It was those self-righteous sinning saints that once told Jesus “you insult us” (Lk 11:45; Matt 15:12).
Paul expresses this so eloquently, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Rom 12:9-13).
Paul also says to, “hate what is evil”. Lets be clear, God abhors sin because it brings death to what He gave life. He created you and I perfect; Sin demolished that perfection. You and I were created to rule and reign over the earth, sin now rules and reigns over us. You and I were created to live eternally; sin brought eternal death. This is the reason God hates sin and why we are admonished to do the same. Thank God for His grace! For He sent Christ to die for us while we were sinners to open the door for us to live a life free from sin!
A few Biblical Facts about sin…
1. We Are All Born Into Sin
The Bible teaches that each of us come into this world a sinner. Not one of us is different in this. Man, woman; child, elder; gay, straight; red, yellow, black or white we are all the same in regard to our sin…yet still precious in His sight!
2. Sin Is Not An Action
Sin manifests itself in our actions, but it comes from the core of who we are. You could say it’s the fruit of what we are at the root. For some it manifests itself in lust, others greed, hate, deceit, envy, or lack of self-control. You can change your behavior (cut away the fruit), but you haven’t changed who you are at the root, a sinner. The Bible teaches us that none of us are capable of dealing with our sin.
3. Jesus Put Sin to Death on the Cross
One of my favorite scriptures is Col 2:14 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
That is the power of the Gospel! And freedom is available to any would believe on Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (I know it’s an unbelievable story – but it’s the belief in that unbelievable story that separates the born again Christian from the American Christian).
So what’s wrong with Love the sinner, Hate the Sin?
The Bible is very clear about what the fruit of sin is, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19). For the Bible believing Christian this is as concrete as well concrete.
But what happens when an individual not only lives in what the Bible calls sin but at the same time embraces it and comes to identify themselves by it?
Let me use an absurd example to better paint this point.
What happens when a man living in adultery decides to start identifying himself by his sin. Imagine he begins to tell people, “Hi my name is Bob, and I’m an adulterer.” Most people would find that extremely odd, nobody does that. If he were in a 12 step program, they’d say he has made the first step to recovery, but what if Bob doesn’t see adultery as wrong. Now Imagine Ned the Christian (yes I know) points out what the Bible says about adultery, Bob will most likely will take that to be an attack on who he sees himself to be. Bob will throw up a wall while calling Ned judgmental and intolerant. However in Ned’s mind, he was pointing to the problem, not at the person.
The two seem to be diametrically opposed to one another making it impossible for one to hear the other. So what do you do?
I don’t think we can do any better than Christ.
First… Love Unconditionally! Jesus demonstrated His love for us by giving his life (1 John 3:16). You and I should do the same. When we are willing to live sacrificially as Jesus did then we have the right do what’s next…
Second… Speak the truth in Love! It’s the truth that sets us free. Withholding truth is not love…it’s tolerance. I would contend that tolerance is the opposite of love. Tolerance says, “I’ll tolerate who you are.” Love says, “I love you to much to leave you there.” Tolerance says, “I’ll tolerate your behavior.” Love says, “I want to show you a better way.”
Love speaks the truth even when it hurts. Love speaks the truth even when it divides. Love speaks the truth even when it isn’t welcomed. God is Love and believe it or not the Bible is the greatest love letter ever written.
Jesus looked at the multitudes and was moved with compassion for them, then He taught them. We would do well to begin there. For it is true… “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” (John Maxwell).
Love All People… and do hate sin which robs us of life in all it’s fullness